The day before yesterday, my friend Chayant, his friend Xan and I went to Savandurga. We left early in the morning, and the air was still chill from the previous night’s heavy rain. We set off on two scooters, and stopped for breakfast four kilometers away from the base. After eating hot idlis, pakodas, and drinking a cup of sweet coffee (Xan had three!), we continued up to the point where our bikes could go no further. Then, we started climbing.
It usually takes about an hour and half to climb up the path that lies behind the hill(including stopping and resting). All the trees, plants and grass around looked so fresh and green. Amazing what a couple of showers of rain can do! Going up, we saw a lot of elephant dung. I’m no expert at telling how fresh or old elephant dung is, but I’m guessing what we saw was around a week old.
On the top!
Pic: Chayant Gonsalves
We had trekked up for about 20 minutes, and then I heard something that completely changed my thought processes for the rest of the trek. I heard elephants! Whether it was one or more, I couldn’t tell. All I knew was that it was an elephant. I like elephants, but encountering them on foot in the wild, that’s a different thing. Chayant heard it too at that moment. I panicked. Quietly at first. Then I said it. “Guys, I think we should go back down”.
Honestly, I was confused myself. We heard the elephant(s) from the valley below, and surely they weren’t that close, or that’s what I chose to believe! We sat there for 10 minutes wondering what to do. Chayant was pretty confident it was okay to go up, and Xan was hearing for the first time about how wild elephants can actually be dangerous. At the end of this, we decided to hike up anyway. Better to go away than towards! As we went up, we saw less dung, and the terrain started to look more like the kind of place an elephant couldn’t get through or across. I was relieved.
We had walked for a while longer and just when we arrived at a clearing we saw a monitor lizard on the flat rock, and then Whoosh! Before we knew it, it was gone! We ran after it, but there was not race of it. That was the second time I had seen one in the wild. We saw yellow-throated bulbuls and white-throated bulbuls, and a couple of raptors were circling high above us.
When we had almost reached the top, it was starting to get hot. Chayant tried to reach the top of the rock which has the pool through a different way, and got stuck on the rock. It’s a pretty steep rock, and the grips are few. Finally though, he did make it down. We went and sat by the pool for a while, drank lots of water and ate some chocolates. It was hot, and there was hardly any wind. We couldn’t see very far as it was quite hazy. Even then, it was lovely to be on top.
The lovely school I studied in from my 7th to 12th grade is on the way to Savandurga from the city, and we decided to stop by there for lunch on the way back. We called a teacher and informed him that we would be coming. It was already 12.30, and we decided to head down. Heading down meant one thing, at least for me. Elephants! This was the first time I was genuinely scared of something in the wild. Well, apart from snakes actually. I did have a phobia for a couple of months, but even that passed! Before we started to head down, we called our teacher again and told him, that we were coming down, and that we heard elephants. “Okay, come down safely”, he said. What else could he say?
Going down, we didn’t hear anything, but that wasn’t enough for me. Until we reached the fort wall which runs at the foot of the hill, I couldn’t stop thinking about elephants and that they might be on the path. And when we ultimately did reach, I was so relieved, and so happy that we reached the entrance. I didn’t want to think about this for this for a while. In a way it was exciting, but I was still shit scared, and I wouldn’t want to be in a situation like that again. At least not for a while!
We got on our bikes and headed straight towards school, and away from the elephants.
While riding back I was thinking- This is something I’ll never forget!